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  • Joaquín “El ChapoGuzmán.

  • You've all heard the name before.

  • But what do you really know about this man who's gone down in modern history as one

  • of the biggest drug kingpins?

  • 50.

  • Let's start with some personal details.

  • On April 4, 1957, he was born in a place called La Tuna, in Sinaloa, Mexico.

  • This was just a small rural community, the home of what you might call simple farmers.

  • His father was a cattle rancher, although unofficially, he grew opium.

  • 49.

  • As for how life was, well, it was tough.

  • Joaquín was the eldest child in the family.

  • He had four younger brothers and two younger sisters, although he had other siblings that

  • died young.

  • When he was in third grade, he dropped out of school, which left him functionally illiterate

  • for the rest of his life.

  • If you're wondering what functionally illiterate means, it's basically being able to read

  • and write a bit, but not enough to work in most jobs.

  • His writing skills weren't even good enough to pen simple letters, which is why he had

  • people write love letters for him when he was in prison.

  • We'll talk about those later.

  • 48.

  • El Chapo sold oranges and candies as a kid to earn extra money.

  • His mother once said about her young son, “Even as a little child, he had ambitions.”

  • His sister, Bernarda, said back in those days, he'd always be able to make some cash.

  • Then he'd buy a bunch of fake gold jewelry and show it off when visiting family members.

  • 47.

  • When El Chapo was still a young kid, he used to save little pieces of paper that he'd

  • cut into the shapes of bills.

  • He'd get a wad and tie it with a band, pretending it was real money.

  • His mom later said, “He'd count and recount them, then tie them up in little pilesEver

  • since he was little, he always had hopes.”

  • He told his mom to save the papers for him and hide them from his father, who, as you'll

  • now see, was not exactly a good influence on the kids.

  • 46.

  • With the nearest school being about 60 miles (100km) away, El Chapo had little chance of

  • getting any kind of education in his teens.

  • Instead, he grew opium with his pop, but his pop would sell the stuff and usually spend

  • all the earnings on booze and women.

  • If El Chapo complained, his father responded with violence.

  • If you didn't know, raw opium is turned into heroin, and that heroin makes its way

  • to the United States.

  • In the past, the British East India Company controlled much of the world's opium, and

  • many years later, much of it came from what's called the Golden Triangle region of Southeast

  • Asia.

  • Later, much of it came from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and then was often trafficked

  • by the Turkish Mafia and the Italian Mafia.

  • As time went on, much of the European heroin was grown in Afghanistan and moved by Turkish

  • gangs, and Mexico dealt with the US heroin trade.

  • It was easier that way, with less distance to travel.

  • Marijuana cultivation was also highly profitable, and that's why El Chapo got into it at the

  • age of 15.

  • That was by himself, not with his father.

  • His father kicked him out of the house, but that didn't stop El Chapo sending cash back

  • to his mother and sisters.

  • His mother adored her son.

  • She once said, “He always fought for a better life.”

  • That's why he moved out of La Tuna and joined the big leagues.

  • 45.

  • He started working for his uncle, Pedro Avilés Pérez.

  • This guy was one of the first agricultural entrepreneurs to realize a lot of cash could

  • be made by sending drugs over the border to the USA.

  • He cultivated both opium and marijuana and is said to be one of the first people to use

  • planes to get weed over the border.

  • He was shot and killed by Mexican federal cops in 1978, likely set up by an up-and-coming

  • trafficker.

  • Such was the life.

  • As you'll see, drug kingpins tend to stab each other in the back.

  • 44.

  • El Chapo then started working forctor Luis Palma Salazar.

  • Just to give you an idea of the environment these guys worked in, Salazar's wife and

  • children were murdered by a rival.

  • More bloodshed followed, of course, but let's stick with El Chapo for now, who was no stranger

  • to violence.

  • 43.

  • Maybe he had a little man complex because he was always trying to impress when he was

  • coming up in those days.

  • He had to win at any cost.

  • During those early days of smuggling, he had one very simple rule if you worked for him.

  • That was, “Lose the drugs, and you will die.”

  • He meant it, too, shooting men who had messed up a shipment.

  • Even if someone decided to buy drugs at a lower price, not from him, that could end

  • with them getting shot in the head.

  • He ruled by fear and it worked for him, which impressed the higher-ups in the Mexican drug

  • world.

  • It's how he came onto the radar of the boss of bosses, Miguel Ángellix Gallardo.

  • 42.

  • Known as the Godfather, Gallardo was one of the guys that started the powerful Guadalajara

  • Cartel.

  • This man had a lot of political connections.

  • He was almost untouchable, and with his contacts in Colombia, he sent an unprecedented amount

  • of cocaine over the border to the US.

  • He set up something called the Federation, which consisted of various branches, or plazas,

  • of Mexican gangs.

  • Each of these criminal gangs got all the drugs they wanted, but just as important, they received

  • the protection of corrupt cops and politicians that Gallardo had in his pocket.

  • Basically, because US drug enforcement had been very good at clamping down on trafficking

  • by Colombia's Medellín and Cali cartels, the Colombians decided to let the Mexicans

  • do much of the trafficking.

  • This is how weed-exporting farmers turned into giant criminal enterprises.

  • We can't say these were peaceful times, but the Federation days were certainly better

  • than what was to come.

  • Back in those days, El Chapo and Ismael Zambada García were given control of the Pacific

  • coast operations.

  • This would later become known as the Sinaloa Cartel.

  • Now you'll see how arrests create power vacuums and how they lead to violence.

  • 41.

  • Gallardo got arrested.

  • In 1985, DEA agent, EnriqueKikiCamarena Salazar, was kidnapped.

  • He was tortured and then killed.

  • This was revenge for the destruction of millions of dollars worth of weed.

  • The DEA launched a massive investigation after that, concluding that Mexican officials and

  • politicians had been working with the Narcos.

  • Gallardo was seen as the man behind it all and responsible for the DEA agent's death.

  • Now the Federation didn't have a leader, and El Chapo saw an opportunity.

  • 40.

  • From October until May of 1987, El Chapo moved 4,400 pounds (2,000 kg) of weed and about

  • 10,400 pounds (4,700 kg) of cocaine to the US.

  • He made about $1.5 million, most of which he sent back home to Sinaloa.

  • He was just getting started, but the people from where he came from felt the cash injection.

  • They would soon begin referring to him as a Robin Hood.

  • 39.

  • In 2020, new reports surfaced that the relatives of El Chapo were handing out much-needed food

  • parcels to people in Sinaloa.

  • El Chapo's face was printed on the packages.

  • In fact, right after he started making the big money, some of it went to fund hospitals,

  • clinics, and schools.

  • He even helped build roads and other infrastructure.

  • He wasn't the first to do this.

  • Pablo Escobar had done it, as had the heroin trafficker from Burma, Kun Sa.

  • Before you get all teary-eyed, just listen to what else El Chapo was capable of.

  • 38.

  • The story comes from a former bodyguard of El Chapo, Isaias Valdez Rios.

  • He said that when El Chapo was in hiding, one day he got a telephone call.

  • His men had captured some guys that worked for a rival cartel.

  • After he put down the phone, El Chapo said, “They're sending us a gift.”

  • When they got the gift, three men, El Chapo beat them with his own hands.

  • He then broke their bones with a large stick.

  • Finally, he shot the men and had their bodies burned.

  • The same bodyguard said his boss also had a man buried alive.

  • For being a bodyguard, he was paid just $175 a week.

  • He said that while there was sporadic violence, most of the time, he just sat around sending

  • and receiving messages on his phone.

  • He told a court, “Sometimes I hardly ate.

  • Even when Mr. Joaquín would rest in his cabin, I would try to sort of rest, but I'd have

  • a small radio with me and he'd say 'Memín, what did so-and-so say?

  • Memín, say this to so-and-so.'”

  • Still, he said another day on the job might mean being part of a hit squad and executing

  • someone.

  • 37.

  • Before El Chapo got to be the biggest drug lord in Mexico, he was renowned for being

  • able to get drugs across the border.

  • Those not close to him were often not sure how he did it.

  • One of the reasons for his success was the tunnels he and his men built.

  • They were the best tunnels around, better than anything that other Narcos had constructed.

  • In later life, such tunnels would come to El Chapo's rescue.

  • We'll talk more about this later.

  • 36.

  • He also sent cocaine across to the US in tins of chilis.

  • The brand name wasLa Comadre.”

  • According to news reports, he smuggled $500 million of cocaine that way.

  • 55 percent of the money went to the Colombian gangs that sent over the cocaine, and the

  • rest went to El Chapo and his men.

  • We're not sure how much the grunts got, but they got really high since the cocaine

  • filled the air where they did the packing.

  • 35.

  • One of his tunnels ran from a house in Mexico and stretched to a house in Douglas, Arizona.

  • To get to the door of the tunnel, a pool table needed to be lifted by hydraulics.

  • 34.

  • The cops found that tunnel, but none of El Chapo's men ever went back to it.

  • That's because he was tipped off by a police chief named Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni.

  • He'd received millions of dollars from El Chapo.

  • 33.

  • Once the Federation was no more, the boys from Sinaloa got into a war with the Tijuana

  • cartel.

  • This led to lots of blood spilled on both sides of the war.

  • El Chapo narrowly escaped being assassinated more than once.

  • 32.

  • One time, El Chapo's men got into a gunfight with their enemy in a disco.

  • Both sides fired over 1,000 rounds.

  • Not surprisingly, people died, six in total.

  • 31.

  • On May 24, 1993, gunmen from the Tijuana cartel thought they had got their man.

  • They were told El Chapo was hiding in a car at Guadalajara International Airport.

  • About 20 men filled the car with bullets, but El Chapo was in another car.

  • As for the occupants of the wrong car, one of them was the cardinal and archbishop of

  • Guadalajara, Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo.

  • Six other people were killed, too.

  • El Chapo heard the gunfire and was able to sneak off just in time.

  • 30.

  • It was this murder of innocent people that made El Chapo a household name in Mexico.

  • Only then was his face on the front of newspapers.

  • It is after the assassination of Cardinal Posadas that authorities begin to tell us

  • there are big drug lords, and that one of them is named Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias

  • El Chapo Guzman,” one investigator later said.

  • 29.

  • The Catholic Church in Mexico disagreed, saying it was an execution gone wrong.

  • It said the shooters knew exactly what they were doing.

  • Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez said forensic evidence pointed to it.

  • He said the assassinated cardinal had been outspoken about how some high-ranking politicians

  • were a bit too close to organized crime.

  • He believed the hit was a conspiracy, which was perhaps one reason why El Chapo got away

  • so easily.

  • 28.

  • Still, he was a wanted man after the airport shooting.

  • He hid for a while, likely with the help of corrupt officials.

  • He also handed $200 million to one of his men for the running of the Sinaloa Cartel,

  • if he should get arrested.

  • He gave the same amount to another man, money to take care of his family.

  • 27.

  • On June 9, 1993, El Chapo was picked up close to the GuatemalaMexico border by the Guatemalan

  • army.

  • He was subsequently sentenced to over 20 years in prison for drug trafficking and other offenses.

  • When asked if he was a drug trafficker, he said, “I'm a farmer.”

  • As you'll now see, prison didn't set him back so much.

  • 26.

  • He was treated like royalty in the prison, with the guards acting as his very own servants.

  • He not only got what he wanted in there but was also able to manage the cartel along with

  • his brother, Arturo.

  • We won't mention Arturo again but will tell you he was eventually shot and killed.

  • 25.

  • El Chapo certainly had his hands full during his wars with his enemies, but according to

  • one former Narco who talked with Newsweek, the US authorities helped him and his cartel

  • out quite a lot.

  • That's because El Chapo was allegedly acting as an informant for the DEA, telling the agency

  • about his enemy's trafficking routes and when they were about to send something over

  • to the US.

  • He also filled agents in as to who had killed who.

  • According to this Narco, he'd personally go and visit U.S. Immigration and Customs

  • Enforcement and start talking to the agents, who he said were always very polite.

  • He told Newsweek, “One of the ICE agents said they were here to help the Sinaloa cartel.”

  • That might sound strange, but that's how the war on drugs has been fought all over

  • the world for a long time.

  • The bookDrug War: The Secret Historydetails how law enforcement in the US and

  • the UK had many secret informants.

  • The downside for the authorities is traffickers have manipulated the agencies.

  • A professor at the University of Texas said, the Sinaloa cartel wasduping U.S. agencies

  • into fighting its enemies.”

  • Even worse, when hitman and gangster Juan Carlos Ramirez testified in the US, he told

  • the court that El Chapo bribed corrupt DEA agents with, “prostitutes, gifts, apartments.”

  • 24.